Change is hard, and it’s supposed to be. If it was easy, it would just be part of your normal continuum, but that’s not what we’re looking for. We don’t want to stay sliding along the same path, we want to expand to a new dimension. Here are some very reasonable barriers to change:

You’re just not ready. Maybe you’re not, and that’s OK! I certainly wasn’t when a dietary change was suggested to me 8 years ago. An acupuncturist, (who I now credit with saving my life,) offered the observation that perhaps sweets were not the best choices for me. I looked at him, trying to determine the kindest way to say that he was insane for thinking I would remove cakes and bakery rewards from my diet ever, let alone while trying to juggle medical school and bizarre health problems, but simply said, “women need chocolate.” And with that, I concisely and effectively closed that door with that provider because I was not ready to even begin contemplating opening it. Sure, in retrospect, I wish I had the insight and motivation in that moment to make all the changes that I now live by, but I didn’t and I couldn’t, and that’s OK. If you’re reading this, you are already making a change. A very amazing patient taught me that sometimes the strongest thing you can offer yourself is to simply show up.

The noise in your head. Now, let’s recognize that your body is brilliant. Brilliant! Unfortunately, so is your mind. So, you need to actively shut off the cravings voice, the rationalizer, the justifier, and listen to the voice of your body. This is a constant learning process! Your brain is big and very powerful, respect it, but try to respect what your body is saying as well.

You cheat. Good! You should cheat. Not all the time, because then you haven’t made a change, but when a craving is unbearable. I encourage it because that’s how you learn just how awful that food type or group was for you. Use negative reinforcement to convince yourself that the new choice is healthier for you.

On my own personal journey to achieving a healthier me, the first thing I recognized as a food group to monitor was refined sugar in the form of cakes and cookies. As I slowly tried removing these items and subsequently cheated and reintroduced them when I felt like I needed a “treat” or “reward,” I started finding that I could barely motivate to do anything the following morning. After one particular binge night in medical school, I remember having to leave class the following day because I had such a bad headache, was irritable and too groggy to focus on the lecture. That was my personal wake up call to refined sugar.